March Brown

From Halford's early dries to the Catskill dry and everything else that floats on the surface.
catskilljohn
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March Brown

Post by catskilljohn » Tue May 05, 2009 10:11 pm

What the heck, lets put up a new fly every day!

Another of the dry flies I love, and what could be more pretty than a March Brown natural, with all those beautiful markings.

Image

CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"

cast cane
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Location: westbrookville [neversink gorge] ny

Re: March Brown

Post by cast cane » Tue May 05, 2009 10:29 pm

sweet !!nice job-far better than mine.

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Niklas Dahlin
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Re: March Brown

Post by Niklas Dahlin » Wed May 06, 2009 1:36 am

Nice work CJ.. Is it read thread you are usin, looks like that at the head?

Later
Nik
Flyfishing is more than just catching fish.
http://www.mulhonken.blogspot.com

mikevalla
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Location: 1 hr north of the Catskills

Re: March Brown

Post by mikevalla » Wed May 06, 2009 5:32 am

Here's a short version of the March Brown variations used over time: An evolution of sorts on what the MB looked like over time--fished on Catskill waters.

These badly rusty MBs, from my collection, are from William Mills & Sons, early 1930's. The Brits still had some influence here. But these were used on Catskill Waters

Image

Now we go to the later 1930's into the early to mid 40's. This MB was not tied by me but is from old stock from that era. Notice the yellow ribbing. You will see this type of ribbing in old 1940's magazines and books. Still what I would call a British influence

Image

Now the March Brown comes under the scrutiny of Preston Jennings. The March Brown shown here, from the vice of Roy Steenrod, shows the Jennings pattern: Mallard flank wings. Darker body. And the peculiar call for grizzly tied in front, not mixed in. ( As an aside notice the anterior wing attitude--something I get into heavily in the book--)

Image

Now came Flick and the pattern he canonized, with its orange silk head and switch to Wood Duck wings--not mallard flank as above.

Notice the relatively light body. I've photographed, and examined, numerous Flick March Brown flies from a variety of sources--private collections, the two museums, and private club collections (the Anglers' Club of NY, the two museums, buddies, etc.) His MB generally have lighter shade. In fact, I was at the American Museum lst week (there's a special exhibit of framed flies) and once again--a lighter shade in his March Brown yet again. And you'll see (in the book) an example of a Flick MB that is even lighter body shade than here!

Also notice his hackle shade. He used a very gingery shade, and you'll see different examples of his fly in the book when it comes out. Look at his wing heights

Image

Now we get into some differences in hackle. Darbees used a brown hackle while Flick's were more gingery. Darbees also had a slightly darker body. I tied these two to cross compare hackle shades and body shades--the more Flick shade on the left. The more Darbee Shade on the right. I use both and tie them both ways. The Darbee brown hackle is a throw-back to the Jennings pattern.

Image

Now we have Mary's. Notice the darker body as compared to Flick

Image

Now, we have my prefered tie. I use a lighter shade like Flick. But darker hackle like Darbee. Brown hackle as Darbee. No orange heads. (Darbee didn't use colored threads). I use the lighter fox fur body because many years ago I realized that the ventral surface of the natural is creamy in shade--not dark brown. But I still use heavy barred woodduck like Flick. But I never use a colored orange head. Flick did it, and wrote a book. So people feel that's the way it should be done.

But Flick changed the pattern anyway--from Jennings who used mallard flank winging. So who's is true to the pattern???

Image

Ok, here's where we are. Kenny Tutalo tied this one. Notice the body. Very light. Kenny, too, realized--like so many --that the MB has a light cream ventral surface in the natural bug

Image

So, there you have it folks. To each their own. The March Brown has evolved on Catskill water. And my suspicion is it always will...

Mike Valla
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catskilljohn
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Re: March Brown

Post by catskilljohn » Wed May 06, 2009 7:21 am

Great stuff as always Mike. CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"

PMCCARDELL
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Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:14 pm

Re: March Brown

Post by PMCCARDELL » Wed May 06, 2009 7:35 am

Good stuff Mike. THanks for the history with pics.

narcodog
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Re: March Brown

Post by narcodog » Wed May 06, 2009 9:16 am

I can't wait for the book.

dennis
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Location: Ohio

Re: March Brown

Post by dennis » Wed May 06, 2009 12:26 pm

All I can say is thanks Joe for this great forum. Where else would a Buckeye like me who has been obsessed with anything pertaining to the Catskills ever since I was a kid would find so many professional flytyers, historians and fishermen all together as here. Dennis

CJ, I will most definitely say the same with classictrout. Great stuff.

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ewpeper
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Re: March Brown

Post by ewpeper » Wed May 06, 2009 4:10 pm

Mike, The Steenrod March Brown fascinates me because one of the characteristics I always noted about the natural (eastern) March Brown dun was when the fly was on the water, the wings were sharply back-slanted, and that was a feature I always attempted to mimic in my own imitations (not Catskill style dries). FWIW, Gary LaFontaine agreed with this observation.

Thoughts?

EP
A mountain is a fact -- a trout is a moment of beauty known only to men who seek them.
Al McClane in his Introduction to The Practical Fly Fisherman . . . often erroneously attributed to Arnold Gingrich

mikevalla
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Location: 1 hr north of the Catskills

Re: March Brown

Post by mikevalla » Wed May 06, 2009 4:46 pm

HI There!

Yes...very observant about the MB natural wings! They have a posterior slanted attitude. It's bewildering that tiers back then didn't pick up on that feature.
Many of Steenrod's flies (not all) have that forward tipped wing attitude. But, as Jennings said himself, "it's a common malady"- attributing it to the force of a hackle quill bearing down on the wing base while winding forward -- a wing that was not set firmly in a vertical position. The weird thing is that I have an image of a Jennings Red Quill..wing attitude tipped anterior; his own flies exhibit his malady he mentioned. However...not to ruin the whole tale...there's more to it..which you'll read about soon!

-Mike Valla
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